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The Gatling gun is an invention of great importance to the science of warfare Richard Jordan Gatling turned his attention to firearms and invented the Gatling gun during the Civil War Even Gatling probably never knew how significant his invention would become Just why though is the Gatling gun such an important invention The idea of a multi-firing rifle for use in war goes back almost as far as the use of gunpowder Britton 1 The problems with creating this type of gun included insufficient gunpowder and ignition systems and the lack of technology for a high firing rate These problems were eventually overcome by the increase in weapons technology during the 19th century New loading systems such as the breech load design and the development of new and improved ammunition were made Innovations to ammunition led to bullets much like those of today The new ammunition utilized a one-piece design to eliminate the need to handle powder The first machine guns used steam to operate and were extremely large and unreliable Britton 2 The first mechanically operated machine gun was the Ager Coffee Mill gun The inventor Wilson Ager designed the gun to operate with a crank that resembled that of a coffee grinder Abraham Lincoln approved the purchase of twelve Coffee Mill guns They were then known as Union Repeating Guns Britton 3 Throughout the Civil War both sides experimented with several machine guns The breakthrough in machine gun technology was made when Dr Richard J Gatling created the famous Gatling gun Gatling was born in Hertford County North Carolina as the son of a plantation owner Gatlings talent for design came from helping his father invent machines for working with cotton Encarta 1 In 1839 Gatling invented a screw propeller for steamboats After this point in his life Gatling drifted from being a county clerk a teacher and a merchant until he attended Ohio Medical College After receiving his PhD
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